Journalism must become the trust-earning business

Most journalists think they’re in the fact-presenting business.

They’re not.

They’re in the trust-earning business.

The actions required for earning trust are very different from the actions required for presenting facts.

Trying to earn trust by "presenting facts" is like trying to woo a girl by submitting your resume.

“Okay, you’ve got all these credentials, but who cares? Do you really have my best interests at heart? Are you going to stand up for me against the powerful?”

Most fundamental of all:

Are you even listening to me?”

These are the kinds of questions journalists must answer through their work.

And they must show, not tell.

Did you see this ad on Twitter?

This ad says

“Hey baby yeah, I’m totally listening to you.” *puts in AirPods*

When journalists stop listening to the population they claim to serve, the population stops listening to them.

And what good are facts when no one is listening?

See — Trust is fundamental. Not facts.

Trust requires at least two things:

  1. Being usefully right as much as possible

  2. Listening honestly to opposition and earning their respect

Everyone claims to be doing #1.

“My facts are real!”

“No, MY facts are real!”

But since nobody is doing #2, it’s impossible to tell whose facts are “real” and whose will crumble when they finally receive their opposition honestly.

The public thus defaults to the most personally convenient, emotionally satisfying narrative.

Everyone has their own facts, because nobody has everyone’s trust.

When journalists compete over facts, they think they’re Fighting For The Truth. With a mandate like that, no wonder it’s an endless morass of futile crusades!

Competing over trust is a much humbler endeavor — one that’s measured in who’s actually listening to you.

Joe Rogan’s winning that battle — his audience is bigger than CNN’s. I suspect it’s because he genuinely listens to everyone: Elon Musk, Alex Jones, Bernie Sanders.

Trust must become the thing journalists compete over.

Ideamarket creates a new business model for journalism — one that rewards trust above all.